What an amazing two days! We were finally in one place long enough to call it "home." We woke up to meet the fabulous Yui for an authentic Thai cooking class. We started at the market where locals gather to sell their crops from the day. Tables of freshly picked fruits and vegetables were as far as you can see. Just pass the fruits were tables of pre-prepared food to grab on the go. Then everyone's favorite place- the meat room. We won't go into detail but that was quite the 'panic zone' place. After grabbing some fruit smoothies and iced coffees we left the market to head to Yui's house where she hosts her cooking classes.
The side patio was lined with personal woks for every student. We all put on our aprons to really get into character and got our cooking on. Yui started with a demonstration on the proper technique to hold a knife and how to crack an egg using only one hand. She continued to show us how to dice the vegetables and tofu, the proper way to cook rice noodles and how to make the sauce for pad thai. Turns out that there is a very specific order that you taste the flavors- very salty that transitions into sweet. After we all customized our pad thai sauce to our liking it was time to cook. With a few bumps along the way (like Nick crushing the egg in his hand instead of cracking it) we all successfully made our pad thai. We garnished with peanuts and lime and sat down to eat. To no surprise we all liked our own the best.
Yui's cooking class continued with everyone making their own green or red curry. The base flavor was coconut but each batch had their own level of spice. Yui treated us to mango and sticky rice for dessert which is a Thai favorite.
After the cooking class we had the afternoon to explore Chiang Mai. Some of the group treated themselves to a massage and others went shopping for souvenirs to bring home. Others pushed out of comfort zones and went bungee jumping. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon getting to know Chiang Mai.
The next two days were quite the outdoor adventure. We started the day bright and early with a windy three hour drive to Pai. We were dropped off at a secluded trail head and hiked about three miles before stopping for lunch. A massive rain cloud chased us for the whole first segment of the hike and we made it to a hut for lunch with no more than 30 seconds to spare. When the rain finally passed we continued for four more miles up a mud slide but we all made it with only a few slips and falls.
We arrived at the village just as thunder storms closed in on us from all directions. We enjoyed dinner cooked by locals and all went to bed soon after. We were awoken early morning by the sound of roosters and started the trek for the day. The view from the top of the mountain was unlike anything we have ever seen- so it was only appropriate to stop for a group photo. The trek ended with an hour or so to explore a near by cave and we were treated with a tour from locals.
Back in Pai we enjoyed well deserved showers and laundry. For dinner we headed to a local open mic night where Maddie Ince showcased her musical talent. By 10 pm we were all in bed exhausted from an adventure filled two days. Thailand has already stolen a part of each of us and it is bittersweet that we have reached the half way point.
Make Pad Thai at home with Yui's recipe:
Ingredients: 3tbsp cooking oil 1/4 cup Tofu (cut into small sticks) 1 tbsp shallot- chopped 1 tbsp garlic- chopped 1.7 ounces minced pork or chicken 1 tbsp dried shrimp (optional) 1 tbsp fish sauce 1 tbsp light soy sauce 2 tbsp tamarind purée 1.5 tbsp sugar 7 ounces fresh narrow rice noodles 4-6 tbsp water or chicken stock A handful of bean sprouts 1/2 cup Chinese chives- cut into 3 cm segments 2 eggs 2 tbsp ground peanuts
Directions: Fry tofu and shallot in 2 tbsp hot oil over medium heat until light brown. Add garlic, minced pork, dried shrimp and sweet turnip (optional. Cook about 1 minute. Add noodles and immediately add water or stock. Cook until noodles are soft. Then add fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind purée and brown sugar and cook for about 1 minute.
Add bean sprouts and Chinese chives and cook until chives turn bright green in color. Add 1 tbsp cooking oil at side of the wok and cook eggs. Mix eggs with noodles when the eggs are nearly cooked. Remove from heat.
Garnish with roasted peanuts, chili powder, lime, cabbage, bean sprouts (all optional)